Public interest, peak oil and global warming

Further to Halfin's comment on the life of this site, I thought I would revisit blogpulse and see how popular the topic has been since Prof G looked, back in July.

It seems as though, while a little more prevalent in the MSM, discussion otherwise has tailed off, as the lack of an evident problem may have caused the reduced interest. Unfortunately the problem itself has not gone away.  Perhaps it will be interesting to come back and see the trend in another six months - if we are still here (grin).

Well, I posted this link, which is about confirmation of Lovelock's dire postulate that the tipping point of no return re. global warming and consequent climate change has passed, at the Olympics discussion, to the total absence of any comments or interest. It would seem that confirmation by other scientists of this event would be of some minor interest to TOD due to Stuart's, and Dave's contributions on the subject. But obviously I'm totally wrong. But here's the link again anyway just in case:

I often find that the posts that provide information do not attract a lot of discussion.  Don't be discouraged by an apparent lack of debate, I don't believe it reflects a lack of interest.  Rather just accept that the facts are noted. Sometime in the future you may find that someone who saw this will quote it in some other debate.  
Thanks. I didn't reproduce the article as I felt it would take up too much space, but thought the subject and the implications of what the article contained would be of interest. Sorry no graphs or other visuals were provided to pique interest. It's OK, we're screwed anyway.
Let's keep this report in perspective. It is not a peer reviewed scientific discovery; rather, the newspaper commisioned some experts to estimate the current "effective" greenhouse gas concentration (including the contributions of methane and other GHGs) and it came out to 425 ppm. This is higher than the 400 ppm ceiling which is estimated to keep global temperature increases less than 2 degrees C which is estimated to keep Greenland's glaciers from melting.

So there is still uncertainty here. We have an uncomfirmed report of one phenomenon (GHG concentrations) which is predicted to lead to another phenomenon (global warming > 2 degrees) which is predicted to lead to a bad outcome (Greenland melting). It's a somewhat tenuous chain. Among sources of uncertainty, the article mentions the impact of aerosols, industrial emisions that block sunlight and reduce global warming. It's not clear whether things are that bad once aerosols are taken into consideration.

The experts cited in fact put things more mildly: "What this tells us is that we have already reached the point where our children can no longer count on a safe climate." It's not even clear what that means - could we "count on" a safe climate before? I don't recall being given a guarantee of a safe world when I was born. Maybe my parents lost the paperwork.

Part of the problem is that even if scientists believe this report, they can't come right out and say we're doomed, because it could actually undercut efforts to stop warming. "Why should we impose all these enormous costs when we're doomed anyway?" people might ask. (I love the guy in the article who said that fixing global warming is "affordable" - because it wouldn't cost any more than the Iraq war!) So the scientists would have to say, "well, we'll be even more doomed if we don't stop making things worse." It's not a very good way to sell a policy, that by undergoing enormous sacrifice you can improve from being "very doomed" to just doomed.

Should be interesting to hear how this "tipping point" stuff plays out in the next few months and years. Seems like neither side gains much political benefit from pushing it.

I think part of the problem in getting interest is calling the problem "Global Warming". Some in colder countries will say bring it on, that will help with my high heating bills! If it were always referred to as "Climate Change" people might relate better as in "there were more Cat 5s last year" or "its dryer / wetter than I remember when I was younger". All these things are consequential on the GHG effects but the wider public might not be making the connection, waiting for the temperature to rise in their district before thinking anything of it.
Here's a search on "oil" "hurricane" and "Iran".
That's quite a leap in Sep. for global warming.  Meteorologists may still be arguing, but it looks like the "wisdom of crowds" has decided global warming is behind the increased hurricanes.  ;-)

And maybe this site won't be around around in six months.  Deffeyes thinks the time for predicting peak oil is over - he says it happened on Dec. 13.  

Yeah, but what about the by 2025 back to the stone age , prediction.
I feel a little shocked by the 2025 statement.I remember in his book that he would not go the get guns route .I am also shocked only one response( TOD), YES  Liz, this deserves it's own thread. I have always thought electrictiy is more fragile than most seem to believe(except Duncan of Olduvail Theory). We had our lines replaced lately- they used a lot of energy.
Yes, I was also struck by the 2025 comment. It seems oddly morose for the usually jocular Deffeyes.
Although Deffeyes statement may be a bit on the bold side, one has to wonder just what it will take to wake up the sheeple to peak oil. What catalyst will drive the people to start thinking about their future or more importantly, their childrens future in a world with less oil, alot less oil I think we can all agree.

What I see happening now is a load of propaganda coming from the government, politicians, and oil companies that our future is GREEN and RENEWABLE.. That's the message the sheeple are getting and they believe everything will be OK..  

I for one, didn't even know about peak oil until about may 2005. SO until TSHTF, most people are satisfied to go about their daily lives not thinking about what tomorrow brings..

But the people who go to his web site are largely the converted.
The sheeple never wander there.
It sounds to me that he has truly become discouraged by his numbers.
propaganda coming from the government, politicians, and oil companies that our future is GREEN and RENEWABLE.. That's the message the sheeple are getting and they believe everything will be OK..  

We should not be discouraged by the "sheeple count".

Bottom line is that more people in control of industry and government are waking up and seeing the approaching tsunami.

Hell, "addicted to oil" made it into this year's State of the Union Speech. Never mind the speaker's motives, it was still there. Who would have predicted that 2 years ago?

Even General Motors (GM !) is kind of admitting that Houston we have a problem.

Tom Friedman is talking about energy independence in his editorials.

John Tierney is provacateering about it in his.

You've come a long way baby.

Whats interesting here is that Deffeyes defines peak oil as the point when exactly 50% of what Hubbert linearization for the world predicts total Qt to be. He says we crossed that 50% point on December 16, 2005. But others define 'peak Oil' as passing the maximum protracted daily production level - these two points could be vastly different in time - if technology is borrowing from the second half of the distribution, we could pass 50% Qt and keep increasing production for several years - it just means steeper decline rates on the back end. This is what I think is happening in any case. (And if Simmons is right about Ghawar, clearly this will be the case)- In fact we might have passed 50% of what mankind really pulls out many years ago...
I am not of the "Deffeyes" school here. As you said, I would define the peak as the maximum daily production rate (of all liquids). There will be a very long tail. And if 2006 passes and I have not seen an increase over the maximum seen in Spring of 2005, as noted by Stuart in various posts, then I believe that new supply will never offset depletion ever again--though we will probably be in CERA's undulating plateau for a few years with no spare capacity whatsoever. The difference between CERA and me here being about 16 years if 2006 turns out the way I think it will. Already HO has reported early year OPEC declines that may be partially offset by Haradh coming onstream soon. But, it's a waiting game now. How will Russia do this year? Mexico? Will something happen with Iran? Will Nigeria finally fall apart? Will Iraq get even worse? How much will Canada squeeze out of those tar sands? How moody is Hugo?
According to the latest IES update, it appears the updated world supply for December may have eclipsed May 2005 by about 100,000 (about 0.012%). A very small margin, and I would not be surprised if EIA has it the other way around. In any event, preliminary estimates from IEA are that Jan fell significantly from December and will again be below May 2005. Might be the "undulating plateau."

Ooops - misplaced a percentage point - make that 0.12%. Same difference.
Note that Deffeyes' "apocalyptic quote" came immediately after this:
The Times reports that solar energy today supplies one percent of US electricity; the hope is to double that to 2 percent by the year 2025.
What he meant is that we're going to have to move a lot faster than the shrinking violets in our government thing we will, or should.

Something like solar Stirling dishes could make the difference.  There are enough 7-11's in Orange county that you could probably power a good fraction of greater LA if you just shaded all their parking lots with them.  Meeting California's peak demand would take a few million of the things, not difficult for a nation which builds millions of vehicles a year.

Sorry, copied too much out of the BP thread.
Global warming?

 NEW YORK (AP) The National Weather Service says a snowfall record has been set for New York City, with 26.9 inches measured in Central Park.

Better them than me.  They were predicting 16" here this morning, but it looks like we got only a dusting.  Must have changed tracks or something.
I just finished snow-blowing about 10-16" - it took me about an hour and a half. The whole time I was thinking about the gas I was burning. Ridiculous. It's got this little tank that must hold about a quart. I doubt if I burned half of it.
Hey, it may be ridiculous, but at least you are thinking about the gas you were using.

Everyone needs to be thinking the same way.

I had the same problem at the weekend.  I used a chainsaw to chop up some trees for firewood.  Despite the fact that I was essentially producing fuel for our new wood-fired kitchen stove, I couldn't help thinking about the petrol I was using in the chainsaw.  Each time I set the saw down to throw some logs in the trailer, I was wondering if I should switch the damn thing off!

Yeah, see, I was worried about that. At first I thought it was just me. But now I know this website makes you mental. At least I know I'm not alone - thanks Duncan.
Oh goody! A chance to do some simple arithmetic.  A chain saw develops (lets say) about a kilowatt.  That's 1000 joules per second.  Say we need at least ten times that in fuel, or 10kJ/s.  It happens that moderately wet wood releases about that per gram burned.  So-  we need about 1 gram of wood burned per second to run the lousy chain saw.  Latest numbers hot off my chain saw give more than ten times that much chips per second.  So,  not to worry. all we need to do (acronym here needed) is turn that stinking two stroke into a stirling engine and we (and I) are home free.  QED.

BUT can we do it?  Gimme an infinitesmal fraction of the 400+billion "defense" budget and I will give you a real wonder of a chain saw.  That's what I call an opportunity cost- not doing the saw and insead doing one little teeny tiny bit of an F-22.  Sad, sad, sad.

A sterling engine chain saw? That was a truly dumb idea.
The obvious priorities are:
  1. Strong enough to do the job.
  2. As light as you possibly can make withouth making it fragile.
  3. Exhausts that are mild for your lungs.

A sterling engine chain saw would probably be a two man behemoth with nasty exhaust.

Run it on the best alkylate petrol a refinery can make or figure out something even better and input the biofuels somewhere else in the economy. It would be stupid to stop using pure alkylate petrol in chainsaws and breath worse exhaust while you work. But processed bio oils are very good saw chain oils.

Magnus, haven't you noticed how weak people are these days?  That's because their chain saws aren't heavy enough.
(Magnus:  It's Stirling, after the Rev. Ian, not the metal.)

I suggest a compromise:  Put the Stirling generator in its own box.  Feed it sawdust, and let it charge some of those Li-ion batteries from A123systems.  Use the batteries to run an electric chainsaw.

Thanks, EP.  That of course is what I was thinking of.   Should remember my sainted Grandma's warning "humor does not translate".  You will also note that I am still torqued off about the military contract running off with my technician who was gonna give me that home power unit operating off my wood stove. Double Drat!  Maybe next heating season.
Why didn't you use a (Duluth) snow scoop and shovels? That's what I do, and the exercise keeps me in shape. Also I find that chopping down trees with an ax and sawing logs with a Swede saw, plus trimming branches with a machete is a great way to work off Berserker fury.

Also, I cannot stand the noise of snow blowers.

And don't tell me you're too old: I've been on Social Security for years.

The deadly part of big snow storms is heart attacks brought on by shoveling.
Hmm, not sure we should blame the snow for that.  After all, those clogged arteries are certainly not gunked up with snow (with the exception of snowmen) - the culprit is a diet rich in meat and dairy and devoid of artery-scrubbing phytochemicals.  
This site is about Oil. No seriously, I love your post. I'm reading the side of my cream cheese container right now.
I haven't burned a drop of gasoline blowing snow or mowing grass in years.  All the machinery I've got is electric.

I don't get the exercise Don does, but my back has stopped making sharp nasty comments since I quit using the snow pusher exclusively.

Should be intesting to see what happens with heating oil futures tomorrow. It's amazing to me that in this day and age our futures markets are closed on weekends and at night. I remember a time when most retail establishments worked that way; if you wanted to buy something at midnight or on Sunday you were out of luck. But now at least in the cities there are 24 hour stores and almost everywhere there are plenty of stores open Saturday and Sunday. I'm confident that eventually the financial markets will work the same way.
Well, heating oil opened this evening (Sunday night) at $1.6975/ gallon, up from the Friday close of $1.6803 a gallon, or +1.972 cents on the lightly traded New York elctronic market; it has fallen back some since then. I assume Tokyo is where oil trades at the heaviest volume right now. Regarding 24/7 markets: they sound great until you become a sleepless currency trader.
You are only sleepless because you can't figure out which way the price is going. Have you ever watched interviews with serial killers? The ones that know they're going to be executed soon seem to sleep fine. It's the ones that think they might get a pardon who have trouble falling asleep.

Bad analogy. I don't know if you're Christian, but try to think of Christmas eve. Once you know there is no Santa, you have no problem falling asleep.

You should be falling asleep simply because you are an oil trader. Holy Christ, how lucky could you be?

Oh, sorry. I just noticed you were a currency trader. I thought you said before it was oil.

Euro will stay between 1.15 and 1.25 for another month.

All that water (snow) got into the air somehow...
I picked up a new book today.  It's called "A thousand barrels a second" and was written by Peter Tertzakian.  A quick search for "Tertzakian" here at TOD shows no hits, so maybe it is real new.

It starts by saying something (at the start of chapter one) that dovetails very well with my takeaway from past TOD (and other web) discussions:

We're not running out of oil.  There is plenty of oil left in the ground to last us many decades, if not longer.  We are, however, running short of cheap oil, especially the desirable grade of oil that flows easily and is devoid of sulfur, otherwise known as "light sweet Crude." Our reliance on that cheap oil runs deeper and is more entrenched than most of us are aware, and because its supply is getting tight at a time when global demand is accelerating, a great change is underway that will put pressure on our lifestyles and our world.  This book is about those pressures and why they will be so difficult to resolve.  But it's also about the light at the end of the tunnel.  Understanding the history of how we arrived at this point will help us know what's coming in the next couple decades [...]"

I actually bought the book as a counterpoint to what I've read before, because it does NOT have "peak oil" in the index (Hubbert's peak, yes.).

Anyway, I see this tying back to the life of the site and the life of the trend this way ... Mr. Tertzakian reinforces the good case (which we've heard here from Stuart and others) that energy transitions take decades.

I think there's room for TOD to live, and  for TOD's principles to publish their own books in that time ;-)

On the topic of public interest in Peak Oil, it is a little hard to read the blue line on the graph because it is crowded down into the bottom portion by the much higher interest in global warming. It would be interesting to see just the blue line in a graph of its own.

My guess is that interest in Peak Oil will largely move in tandem with retail energy prices. When gas or heating oil gets very expensive, people worry that we are running out. When prices drop then people stop worrying. It'd be interesting to see the technorati Peak Oil plot next to a graph of gas prices.

I actually did this first, but then ran the three for historic comparison.
Here's the six month USA gas price chart for comparison:

One difference is that TOD had an up trend from mid October to mid November, while gas prices were falling all through that period. But it's not a bad fit otherwise.

mid-oct thru early nov is when natural gas prices were at their highs - now cut in half.
Sorry, the link I put in to the chart above is not a stable URL and apparently shows whatever chart somebody looked at last. You can go to and look at it there, the U.S.A. average gas price over the past six months.
Back to the top of this thread (PO and global warming)
After Stuart's post on Greenland ice melting I studied James Hansen's papers, his latest being:
and included it in several submissions on various Government projects in Sydney, Australia. I am now arguing as PO and global warming being a double whammy.

Tonight, Australia's ABC TV 4corners programme took up the issue of local climatologists from the CSIRO being muzzled by opportunistic and myopic politicians or their agents, similar to what happened to James Hansen. Read at:

So the topic of global warming is red hot. And by the way, the target is 60% reduction of green house gases by 2050. Will peak oil make it? Or will we go full speed into CTL - without geo-sequestration? How many CTL projects would be needed? What would be the cost per liter?

...and included it in several submissions on various Government projects in Sydney, Australia. I am now arguing as PO and global warming being a double whammy.

Who are you?

    There are some "curiosities" with some of the climate data  produced  by GISS (The Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the place run by James Hansen). mentions that GISS has been "adjusting" temperatures for an apparent "urban cooling" that mysteriously happens to the data for some small Swedish towns but not to others nearby. GISS has also been doing the same thing for some other data - see   for some critical comments.
    At the request of the House Science Committee, the National Academies are establishing a Panel on Climate Reconstruction (see ClimateAudit for details). McIntyre and McKitrick, and some other experts have been invited to address the Panel.
    A prominent scientist in the pay of the Federal Government attacks the President in a crucial state (Iowa) one month before the election. Not just any prominent scientist either, but James Hansen - recipient of $250,000 in pocket change from the Heinz Foundation run by Mrs John Kerry....
In March of 2004, James Hanses wrote in Scientific American,
...Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue and energy sources such as  synfuels, shale oil and and tar sands were receiving strong consideration. Now, however, the need is for demonstrating objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions.
   In other words, Jame Hansen exaggerated in the past. Why should we believe him now - especially when GISS data is being chnged in puzzling ways?